Dwarfs and Giants in Science

Illustration of Sardinian Dwarf Mammoth, Sardinian Giant Otter, Deer, Sardinian Dhole and Giant Pica. Credit: Peter Schouten, studioschouten.com.au

Amniota lab postdoc Roberto Rozzi has just published a paper in Science!

Rozzi et al. 2023 Dwarfism and gigantism drive human-mediated extinctions on islands. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.add8606

Islands often contain distinctive ecological conditions that can lead to unusual evolutionary trajectories such as dwarf mammoths and giant rats. Rozzi et al. looked across extant and extinct species from islands to determine whether these evolutionary “oddities” were more threatened and found that both dwarf and giant species were more at risk for extinction. Further, the arrival of humans, both deep in the past and in the present, accelerated their extinction. Island conditions have thus both generated these unusual species and protected them, at least until humans acquired the ability to cross oceans.

Read the Museum für Naturkunde press release here